Multiple sources close to the legendary quarterback say all options are on the table for Brady, who at age 45 feels good enough to keep playing and once again has the Buccaneers in playoff position entering today's game against the 49ers.
Brady -- who grew up a 49ers fan in San Mateo, Calif. on the San Francisco Peninsula -- announced his retirement last February before reversing course 40 days later and returning for a third season with the Bucs after 20 years (and six Super Bowl wins) with the Patriots.
The plan heading into the 2022 season had been to walk away at age 45, as Brady always imagined. But those who know him well wonder if he's more open now than he was in early September.
After a trying year that took a toll on him personally, including a highly publicized divorce from his wife of 13 years, Gisele Bundchen, Brady has seemed more like himself in recent weeks. He has been asking for more competitive 1-on-1 reps in practice. He's feeling better physically after dealing with shoulder and finger injuries earlier in the season. And he channeled vintage magic last Monday night to rally Tampa Bay from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Saints.
Brady is set to become a free agent for the second time in his career in March.
Could he re-sign with the Bucs? Brady has great affection for the organization and the Glazer family ownership group, whose franchise he instantly returned to glory with a Super Bowl LV win to conclude his first season with Tampa.
Could he sign elsewhere? There surely are teams that regret not trying harder to sign Brady three years ago. Even at 45, he'd be an upgrade (albeit likely a short-term one) over plenty of QBs starting now. Over half the league has QB questions entering this offseason. If Brady feels his best chance to win another Super Bowl is not in Tampa, it makes sense he'd look to move on for the right situation. Family considerations surely will play into any decision, as they did in 2020, with his children currently living on the East Coast.
Could he retire again -- this time for good? That was the plan before the season, but changes in Brady's personal life might have altered the landscape. Whenever he walks away, he will do so as the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and he already has a post-playing plan lined up in the form of a nine-figure broadcasting deal with Fox Sports.
Whatever decision Brady makes figures to come prior to the start of free agency in mid-March. For now, his focus remains where it normally is: winning an eighth Super Bowl ring.